Pregnancy discrimination is a significant challenge for many expecting mothers. Though employers should support pregnant employees, many employers view pregnancy and maternity leave as a burden and meet news of pregnancy with bias instead of encouragement. Pregnancy discrimination causes emotional, financial, and social harm and can irreparably impact women’s career trajectory.
If you experienced pregnancy discrimination at work, contact our team at King & Siegel LLP. Our San Jose pregnancy discrimination lawyers can help hold your employer accountable and seek compensation for you.
What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer makes adverse employment decisions against an employee or job applicant due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This unfair treatment typically is motivated by one of two biases.
First, some employers adhere to outdated beliefs about women’s commitment to work once they become mothers. These employers believe that mothers are less dedicated to their job than women without children or men.
Second, some employers hold biases against employees who take leaves of absence. These employers may resent paying for health insurance premiums for employees who are on leave. They also may view covering an employee’s job duties during leave as an inconvenience.
Pregnancy discrimination manifests in various ways, including:
- Termination. Some employers fire, lay off, or refuse to renew an employee’s contract based on their pregnancy or maternity leave.
- Denial of benefits. Pregnant employees may struggle to get health insurance, maternity leave, or other work benefits.
- Unequal treatment. Employers may give employees undesirable tasks, withhold promotions, or withhold growth opportunities. This form of discrimination is sometimes called the “mommy track.”
- Harassment. Individuals may face workplace harassment, such as offensive comments or negative performance reviews.
- Failure to accommodate. Women who experience complications in their pregnancies may need accommodations to continue to work throughout their pregnancy. Employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.
You have rights if your employer discriminates against you. Speak with our San Jose pregnancy discrimination lawyers if you think your employer engaged in any of this conduct.
Pregnancy Discrimination Is Against the Law
Federal and California laws protect individuals from pregnancy discrimination within the workplace.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA)
The PDA offers:
- Broad coverage. The PDA covers all aspects of employment, such as hiring, firing, benefits, and any other terms or conditions of employment.
- Legal protection. Employers can’t treat pregnant employees worse when it comes to work tasks, scheduling, or other employment conditions.
- Accommodations. Pregnant employees get the same accommodations as other temporarily disabled employees.
Although the Pregnancy Discrimination Act applies throughout the United States, it only applies to entities with at least 15 employees.
California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act provides additional protection for pregnant employees.
The FEHA ensures pregnant employees have the right to:
- Job security. It protects against any adverse employment decisions due to pregnancy or related conditions.
- Reasonable accommodations. Employers must make necessary, reasonable adjustments to help pregnant employees perform their duties.
- Continuation of benefits. Pregnant employees must receive the same benefits and opportunities as other employees.
The FEHA applies to entities with at least five employees, helping to fill the gaps created by the PDA.
The Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL)
California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law is a unique law that provides pregnant employees the right to take time off due to pregnancy-related disabilities. Pregnant employees have the right to take up to four months of job-protected leave for pregnancy-related disabilities. Employers may require a doctor’s note to certify that the employee is disabled by a pregnancy-related medical condition. This time can be used before or after giving birth and is frequently used for conditions like preeclampsia, hyperemesis, and post-partum anxiety or depression. Unlike the CFRA, which is described below, there is no eligibility period. Even new employees are entitled to pregnancy disability leave under the PDLL.
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The CFRA helps women after they give birth to their child. This law allows women to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with their newborn or care for themselves. The CFRA is only available if:
- You worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer,
- You worked for at least 12 months, and
- Your employer has at least five employees.
While CFRA does not provide paid leave, you may qualify for assistance under the Paid Family Leave program.
How We Can Help You
Most employers in California are required to follow these federal and state laws. The
San Jose pregnancy discrimination attorneys at King & Siegel LLP know all the excuses employers use to break these laws. Here are some ways our firm can help if you have experienced discrimination at work.
We take pride in supporting workers who suspect pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Our lawyers will assist in collecting compelling evidence to prove your claims. This process involves collecting performance reviews, emails, statements, and documentation reflecting discriminatory practices. Collecting this information early helps prevent your employer from hiding any documents in the future.
We assist in drafting and submitting internal complaints with your employer. Additionally, our firm can help you report your employer’s behavior to government bodies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Sometimes, you will need to file a lawsuit against your employer. Our firm will handle your entire San Jose pregnancy discrimination lawsuit so you can focus on your baby and health.
Negotiate with Employers
Throughout this process, we will attempt to negotiate with your employer. Negotiations are often successful because employers want to avoid the cost and risk of litigation. During these talks, we’ll advocate for your needs and make sure your employer understands their legal obligations.
Take Your Case to Trial
When negotiations don’t work, we can take your case to court. While going to trial can be stressful, our lawyers will handle everything. They will ensure the judge or jury understands how your employer’s actions harmed you.
Get You Compensation
Our San Jose pregnancy discrimination lawyers fight hard to get compensation for our clients. Damages for pregnancy discrimination can come in many forms. Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to help you recover for:
- Back pay and front pay,
- Lost benefits,
- Emotional stress, and
- Punitive damages.
On top of these categories of damages, the law allows us to request your employer cover your attorney’s fees and court costs if we prevail at trial.
Schedule a Case Evaluation
The lawyers at King & Siegel LLP focus on California employment law and understand the complexities of these cases. We have decades of experience and have recovered millions of dollars in discrimination cases. Call today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.